We experienced a bit of a scare over the weekend. Those of you who know us might already have heard. If not, I apologize for the ambiguity, but there’s something I want to say and this is my dais.
To protect our family’s privacy, I won’t get into the details. I understand that’s a contradiction, that a public journal like this is not generally the place for privacy. Yet, there we are.
I will say this to provide context. One of our sons was hospitalized over the weekend, and the event that made the hospitalization necessary was a terrible experience for my wife and me.
Let me just add: Pure fear plus complete exhaustion equals utter disorientation.
While the medical details are not for public consumption, I am compelled to let those of you who have reached out over the past few days know that we are home, we are well and everything is OK. We are tired, but fortunate. We are also incredibly thankful.
Which brings me to the point of this post.
At the hospital on Friday night, during the darkest moments of the darkest midnight hour of my life, I turned on my iPhone and touched the Facebook icon. I touched the button for status update and typed one word: Prayers. I have no recollection of doing this, and it was not like me at all. I am not a religious person. Prayer probably does not mean to me what it means to those of you who attend church or temple or a mosque regularly.
I’ve thought a lot about why I wrote that word on Facebook at that moment. I’ve seen others post something similar on occasions far more – and far less – emotionally trying. Usually, I’ve skipped right on by it, maybe even rolling my eyes about it. Really? A call for prayers on a social media network? It always seemed superficial, a desperate cry for attention.
I understand now. While I might not think of prayer the way some people think of prayer, the outcome was essentially the same. For me, it was a cry in the dark, a way to ask for emotional support in my time of extreme need. My wife and I were in shock, completely overwhelmed by events.
When I sent out that digital distress signal, people responded. Even though it was nearly midnight on a Friday night, people saw our need. The outpouring of support and kindness and love overwhelmed us in a different way. A good way.
And it continued throughout the weekend. As we emerged from the darkest hour and soaked in some good news, we found ourselves breaking into tears over all the kindnesses people shared with us on Facebook. Dozens of people responded with words of warmth, which helped sustain us.
Some people sent private messages. Some people made phone calls. All of the people who reached out either through words or even through the simple act of clicking the “like” button on our updates helped get us through it. For that, I thank you. And never again will I roll my eyes at a call for help on social media. I can’t say I’ll respond to every request, but I will understand that on the other end of that status update is a human being in need, and if I can help simply by letting them know I’m in their corner, I will.
I also need to acknowledge the kindness of the folks at the Port Orleans Riverside Resort at Walt Disney World. That’s where we were supposed to be over the weekend, celebrating my wife’s birthday with her parents. Instead, we were at the spectacular Nemours Children’s Hospital, which is where the Disney employee found us to deliver a care package for both of our sons. It was another gesture that helped our family cope with one of the most horrifying events of our lives.
Let me leave you with the conclusion from a private essay I wrote to help me order my thoughts and make some sense of it all. I will never publish that essay in full, but the conclusion is worth sharing, I think.
“We came home late Sunday morning. On the way home, we saw a skywriter use an airplane to write the word ‘LOVE’ in the air above Lake Buena Vista. Our son slept in the back seat while my wife and I talked about the weekend we had, the weekend we expected to have and the weekends we still get to have together as a family.”